NHS Spending

Part of EU Nationals in the Uk – in the House of Commons at 6:12 pm on 6th July 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health 6:12 pm, 6th July 2016

First, may I welcome the hon. Lady to her place as a doctor and as someone who knows a great deal about NHS matters? Although I am sure we will not agree on every health matter, it is always valuable and a great asset to have someone with medical experience in the House, and I am sure she will make a huge contribution in that respect. She is absolutely right to say that what happens in the social care system has a direct impact on what happens in the NHS, and that we cannot—as, in fairness, happened under Governments of both colours over many years—look at the NHS and the social care system as completely independent systems when we know that inadequate provision in the social care system has a direct impact on emergency admissions in A&E departments. She is right to make that point.

Let me make a broader point in concluding my comments. I think that there would be agreement across this House on the huge pressure on the NHS frontline at the moment, and that there is recognition of some fantastic work being done by front-line doctors and nurses to cope with that pressure. I shall give a couple of examples of the extra work that is happening, compared with six years ago. The A&E target is to see, treat and discharge people within four hours. Every day, we are managing to achieve that, within the four-hour target, for 2,500 more people than six years ago. On cancer, we are not hitting all our targets, but every single day we are doing 16,000 more cancer tests, including 3,500 more MRI scans, and treating 130 additional people for cancer. There are some incredible things happening.

However, we all recognise, and this perhaps lies behind the Opposition’s concerns in bringing this motion to the House, that in healthcare we now deal with the twin challenges of an ageing population, in that we will have 1 million more over-70s within the next five years—a trend that is continuing to grow—and of the pressure of scientific discovery, which means we have new drugs and treatments coming down the track. They are exciting new possibilities but also things that cost money. I for one, as Health Secretary, believe that as soon as economic conditions allow, we will need to start looking at a significant increase in health funding. That is why it is incredibly important, as we go through the next few years negotiating our new relationship with Europe, that we work very hard to protect the economic base that we have in this country, the economic success that we have started to see, and the jobs that do not just employ a lot of people but create tax revenues for this country. It is incredibly important that we pilot the next few years with a great deal of care, because what happens on the economy will have a huge impact on the NHS.